Efficiency Vs. Effectiveness
❏ You can be very efficient at completing tasks before you, but if these tasks do not contribute to the career and the life you want, then you are not using your time effectively.
It is possible to be very good at doing the wrong things!
Here is a wonderful story that highlights the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.
A team of managers was supervising a crew building a road through a jungle. The crew was working steadily, clearing trees and brush, grading the road, installing drainage—doing all the tasks necessary to build a good road. The road looked to be a great success. Then, the project leader arrived and climbed up a tree in order to get an overview. After surveying the activity below, he called down to the managers, “Wrong jungle!”
The managers, undaunted, called back to the leader, “Shut up; we’re making progress!”
(Adapted from First Things First, by Stephen R. Covey, A. Roger Merrill, and Rebecca R.Merrill [Simon & Schuster, 1994].)
Sometimes we are so caught up in the heady feeling of getting things done efficiently that we do not ask ourselves if these things are leading us in the right direction.
Efficiency is about building a road with a minimum of wasted resources, such as time, effort, and materials.
Effectiveness is about building a road through the right jungle!To be effective:
- figure out—and write down—your longterm goals. This may require some careful soul-searching, as well as discussion with partners in your plans (your spouse or significant other, your boss).
- Then make sure that each day includes actions directly relevant to these goals.
- Study that state-of-the-art building material you would like to be using in your designs.
- Play with your kids.
- “Now” is the only time you have. “Later” never comes.
A good way to head in the right direction is to ask yourself: “What are three things I could do today (or this week, month, or year) that would most benefit my organization (or career, work group, or project)?” This will help you set priorities and act on
Ask yourself frequently, “What is the best use of my time right now?” If the answer is something other than what you find yourself doing, consider switching to the more important task.